Teaching & Learning


Examination of online learning effectiveness frequently focuses on the success of asynchronous discussion, since it is commonly a core element of online learning, design, management and course delivery. Consequently, asynchronous online discussion boards are one of the most commonly used communication tools in online teaching. Here, at the University of Tasmania, a communication tool is required in every unit MyLO site and so discussion boards, not surprisingly, often serve this purpose.

An online asynchronous discussion typically lasts longer than synchronous discussions using chat rooms and text messaging. This provides an opportunity for students to utilise more time to prepare their individual contributions. The online discussion tool in MyLO enables flexible learning, student reflection and peer-peer learning and can be an integral part of the learning process.

As an educator at the University of Tasmania you may or may not already use online discussion boards in your blended or fully online units. Irrespective of your previous experiences, the purpose of this guide is to assist you in designing and utilising online discussion boards effectively in the MyLO environment. Topics addressed in the guide include:

In addition, the guide provides tips and resources for effective discussion board use and exemplars demonstrating the use of discussion boards as an integral component of good teaching and learning practice.

This guide has been produced by a group of University of Tasmania staff who have surveyed university students and staff to gain their perspective of online discussion boards. In addition, a number of staff have been interviewed to gain a detailed perspective of their online discussion board experiences. This data, along with a review of existing guides and the literature on online discussion board use in higher education, has culminated in the production of this guide. The development of this guide has been funded by a University of Tasmania Teaching Development Grant (2017).